PGA Nigeria on Steady Rise

The 2019/2020 Professional Golfers Association (PGA) of Nigeria Qualifying School final was brought to an end on a very exciting atmosphere of mixed feelings on Friday, February 21, 2020, at the Port Harcourt Golf Club in Rivers State.

The exciting atmosphere and mixed feelings followed the scintillating performance of the candidates who qualified for the most “dreamed” professional status and those who could not make it.

Yes indeed! Most of the candidates have made several attempts and finally got it, just as many too had attempted on several occasions but still missed out this time around.

But most interestingly, the successful and the unsuccessful candidates all celebrated together in the spirit of sportsmanship as it was hilariously and emotionally an occasion to experience than imagined.

In all, 18 candidates were needed to qualify with a minimum score of 101 combined from playing and classroom work; and the PGA Nigeria had given a window that 18 ties will qualify, though it was never to be.

Isife Chiemerie of Enugu Golf Club, however, stole the show at the 2019/2020 exercise after missing out at the 2018/2019 session which held at the Lamingo Golf Club in Jos, Plateau State where Igyem Samuel was the winner.

Chiemerie grossed 244 (80, 72, 72) over three days in the 54 holes play and 140 combined to beat his closest rival, Johnson Okoh, of IBB Golf Club, Abuja to the second position; Okoh grossed 219 (74, 69, 76) in the course work and 134 combined in the classroom work.

Chiemerie thus emerged the best overall and the best on the course and second in classroom work with 70% score; while James Idoko of Ilorin Golf Club emerged the best in classroom work which combines: Teaching; Repairs (Golf) and Speech – with 76% score

The Qualifying School exercise which had 80 candidates from various clubs across the federation registered, saw 74 candidates who physically participated in the exercise which lasted between February 17 and 22, 2020.

Golf fans who monitored the event physically and on the media across the globe gave commensurable kudos to the PGA of Nigeria for a job well done for once in recent times; from the organisation to participation and the serene atmosphere devoid of rancor and bitterness.

However, this feat was not achieved without the PGA Nigeria Board ably led by, Samson Lawal the Director of the association involving egg heads who were given free hands to supervise the exercise

The supervisory team included the PGA Nigeria legends which had Peter Akakasiaka who headed the examination board; Tony Uduimoh and Patrick Okpomu as advisers; just as some senior professionals were made invigilators.

The classroom work could be best compared to any external examination with the standard best practices obsessed, while it lasted for two days; the course (practical) work was filled with tension and suspense from start to finish – crazy swinging and putting to the delight of the Port Harcourt golf fans and others from far and near.

The players no doubt exhibited their preparedness for the Professional tasks ahead as certainly only the very best who understood the rules of the game; focused and committed made it at the end of the pulsating 54 holes play.

Incidentally, the PGA of Nigeria made a new record as two women, Danbaki Tina Micah and Sharon Wesley, both became the first female professionals produced by the association.

Both Micah and Wesley unanimously affirmed that their joy knows no bound for the achievement as they commended the board of the PGA Nigeria for its kind consideration for the women in the country.

Micah however, is looking ahead on giving back to the society: “I will make sure I give back to the society by encouraging more women into the game and also I will like to go into grassroots programme to bring up the younger ones who will fill the vacuum the older ones will create in the future.”

Wesley on her part is overwhelmed and believes, “I have to do my best to prove that this rare opportunity is not a fluke; I have to take every advantage that professional golfing will provide me.”

“We are most grateful to PGA of Nigeria for this rare opportunity given to the Nigerian women; now we won’t think of going elsewhere for the Qualifying School as it is now with us in the country,” they reasoned.

Akakasiaka commenting on the eventful exercise believes, “PGA must not lose focus on its drive to return the association to its lost glory; this year’s Qualifying School by my estimation is something to cherish. I say so because I have received a lot of commendations for job well done by the association; it’s now for the board to continue raising the bar and never looking back; it should be forward ever.”

Akakasiaka, a PGA Nigeria legend also has a word of advice for those who qualified.

“Now for the new professionals, the world is not a bed of roses; I enjoined them to see their qualification as a new beginning to rise to the top – more work is now needed to be done and the sky will be their limit,” he said.

Joseph Taouk, Captain of Port Harcourt Golf Club on his part cautioned that the PGA Nigeria must not lower its guard, “Only the best must be admitted into the professional Association at all times without sentiment or compromise, because it will help sustain the credibility of the association.”

Lawal, the Director of PGA Nigeria on a fatherly note wants the prospective and substantive professionals to look beyond playing on the course, “There are other skills in life that could be added to playing golf; the world is now digital; golf too has gone digital and you must catch up with it by developing yourselves.”

Tony Phimoore, Chairman of Degema Local Government’s Area of Rivers State and senior professional crowned it all with his love for the sponsorship of the 2019/2020 PGA Qualifying School: “I am happy sponsoring this event, because what I am made of today is as a result of my becoming a professional back in the 1980s and this is one of my many ways of giving back to the association,” as he charged every professional not to look back, but take advantage of the benefits in the profession.

The 2019/2020 Qualifying School was rounded off officially with 18 holes amateur event on Saturday February 22, 2020 at the Port Harcourt Golf Club amid presentation of award to deserving candidates while it lasted.

Thus, to conclude that the PGA of Nigeria in recent times is progressing steadily with the international best practices is not an exaggeration and not to mention it will be an understatement as nothing good comes easy in life.

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